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Grimethorpe & Other Blighted Areas / YOUR " High Street " : Modern Day Reality ... For Some ? Updates On The Wastelands - Page 2 - Carers UK Forum

Grimethorpe & Other Blighted Areas / YOUR " High Street " : Modern Day Reality ... For Some ? Updates On The Wastelands

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
Ground zero ... Newcastle-under-Lyme , Staffordshire ... a " Shopping Centre " fights back :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... under-lyme

The shopping centre where the currency is hope.

For years, all Mike Riddell has seen in his trade is failure and death. But today he’s at a birth – and all his hope rests on it.

A new cafe is opening in the shopping centre he manages and they are throwing a party. Having brought along his wife and mum, 53-year-old Riddell goes into “full-on host mode”, chatting up council officials and swapping elaborate handshakes with teenagers.

Yes Sir, I Can Boogie blasts out of the stereo, and some obliging soul in a Spider-Man costume complies. Over all the music and chat, you can hear the free ping-pong tables getting a pounding. Yes sir, clip-clop, clip-clop, I can boogie, clip-clop, clip-clop.

Through the big windows, you can see the world Riddell normally faces – and it’s desolate. No babble, no mucking about. Hardly anyone clip-clops past. On this Tuesday lunchtime at York Place, the most tired shopping centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme, just outside Stoke, there are few actual shoppers.

After decades building and running shopping centres across the country, Riddell has looked after York Place for two tough years. He let out this same entrance cafe to a can-do pair at the end of 2017. They lasted a few months before giving up, leaving behind the tables, chairs and a stove for whoever else wanted to try their luck.

It would be hard for anyone, but especially for Riddell, who is one of life’s enthusiasts. He zooms down conversational detours about his great love, northern soul, and its debt to miners’ culture. And he never wears a poker face. Ask how important this successor cafe is and he admits: “******* vital. We need to make this work.”

At rock bottom, eight of York Place’s 35 units stood vacant. Still today, bare shopfronts are as obvious as missing teeth. Next door at the fancier Roebuck Centre, the Early Learning Centre, Argos and Primark have all disappeared. Even the charity shops are vanishing. For centuries, Newcastle, as locals call it, has been a bustling market town. Today the market is retreating and the town’s very identity is under threat.

York Place is at the eye of a storm that has either already hit your home town or is looming over it. Last year 5,855 shops closed in Britain, the most since 2010. If today is in line with the average, by this evening a net total of five shops will have given up the ghost.

In our long post-crash slump, trusted names are either shutting down or cutting back: Woolworths, Comet, Blockbuster, Maplin, Jaeger, Toys R Us, BHS... As British wages continue to flatline, more closures will follow. Just last week, the 169-year-old chain House of Fraser announced plans to begin insolvency proceedings .

These individual business failures amount collectively to a disease eating away at small-town centres and suburban high streets. It advances in stages: first out are the brand names and chains; then shoppers with cars; after that, in come the charity shops and betting dens. What’s left are ghost towns, abandoned by all bar schoolchildren and pensioners.

“Walk around Newcastle at three in the afternoon and a lot of the cafes are empty,” says Andy Arnott, a senior local council officer. “Come five, everybody finishes work and leaves town.”

I can see why a retailer already battling Lidl or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos might pass over Newcastle. It’s a bit too close to Stoke to draw its own footfall. It lies in a region built on mining and potteries, where prosperity is now a fading memory. In a country that simply has too many shops, executives have little use for Newcastle and other places, from Dartford to Newport to Dewsbury. What, apart from shopping, will they do now? What, indeed, does a country built on debt and consumption do when it’s exhausted that model? These are questions that Westminster has barely even clocked, let alone tried to answer.

David Cameron got Mary “Queen of Shops” Portas to write a report on “distressed town centres”, then so roundly ignored her proposals that she attacked his “PR campaign”. Since 2011 there have been seven high street ministers in as many years. So weighty have been their interventions, I bet you didn’t even know there was such a thing as a high street minister.

Which leaves it up to towns to fix their own gutted centres, using whatever tools they can find. Dumfries has a “doon toon army” of locals bidding to buy derelict shops. In Newcastle, Riddell and his colleagues already have a plan. They’re turning York Place into a post-shopping centre.

Its anchor tenant – the big shop to draw in passing trade – isn’t an H&M or a Wilko, but a charity: the YMCA. Rather than a traditional charity shop, it’s selling jewellery and other work hand-made by local artists, and runs arts and crafts workshops for residents of all ages. And as of last Tuesday, the cornerstone cafe is Cultural Squatters, a social enterprise that markets itself as the “anti-Costa”. It serves instant coffee at £1 a mug alongside those Staffordshire specialities, lobby (stew) and oatcakes. Staff include adult volunteers with learning disabilities.

Where shopping centres are normally stuffed full of chains, York Place is now a hub for local independents. Where landlords usually demand maximum rent, Riddell has cajoled his London-based client into accepting two non-profits in return for reduced business rates.

It’s a pragmatic way of reclaiming commercial space for a community – and it’s buttressed by a reward scheme launched by Riddell and his colleagues at Manchester-based consultancy HometownPlus. Called CounterCoin, it’s like a Tesco Clubcard – except you earn points not by spending, but by doing something for the community. Help out at a YMCA workshop, say, and you’ll get clay tokens that entitle you to bargain off-peak sessions at the neighbourhood bowling alley, or discounts from the local Spar on food about to pass its best-before date. “If we can dole out points for being a zombie consumer at Tesco, why can’t we give points for doing some good in the community?” says Riddell.

“Genius,” says Arnott, who plans to add more of the council’s leisure facilities to the scheme.

Again, this is commonsense radicalism: retrieving things discarded by the market, whether shops or goods or people, and giving them a social value.

That’s true of the abandoned plot now occupied by Cultural Squatters. It’s also true of its founder, Narina Stead, who fixed up her cafe despite a broken arm and torn ligaments. Painting hurt, she admits, but “I’m too busy for a sling”.

Now 42, pink-haired Stead cheerfully says: “I’ve lived with some absolute monsters.” She talks of a history of domestic violence, of a broken back two decades ago. Another relationship broke her mental health, forcing her out of work and on to benefits. She used the time to get a first-class English degree, then “boshed out” a master’s, finishing both in three years.

Yet in a jobs market as slack as north Staffordshire, it would be an unusual employer who would bother looking past her long-term unemployment to see her brains and stamina. What about the state? A couple of months ago, it was chasing her for bedroom tax. Only Riddell offered her a shot at a business. It’s hard graft that has still to pay, but when she blurts out “This is my baby!”, her pride needs no underlining.

Pinned to the noticeboard of the York Place offices are not charts of till receipts or footfall – but a graph depicting how many person-hours have been poured into the local community through the shopping centre. However crude, it’s an attempt to measure social value, and I’ll bet 10 CounterCoin that no other mall anywhere in the country charts such a thing.

“It’s no ordinary shopping centre. It’s a laboratory,” says Julie Froud, a professor at Alliance Manchester Business School, who is conducting an independent evaluation of York Place.

It lacks investment, as shown by the cluster of buckets to catch leaks in the entrance. The ideas are rough around the edges, and many of those involved are working on goodwill. But at least the centre only has one faraway landlord; activists in Dumfries are having to barter with a number of absentee owners.

In this lies a lesson for any opposition party that wants to offer disaffected voters a means of taking back control: make it easier for communities to repossess derelict properties. Most of all, Froud notes: “This is a group of people all trying to make things happen.”

And trying to change a broken model. It’s often assumed that this hyper-consumerist culture of debt and spending is intrinsically British – yet it is a recent invention. As late as the 1960s, the historian Frank Trentmann notes in his 2016 book Empire of Things, furniture bought on hire purchase would be delivered in “plain vans” so as to not to shame a family. Then, between the mid-70s and the mid-90s, the number of Britons with credit facilities tripled.

With that began the giant boom for the shopping business – including for Riddell, who built malls from Newport to Crewe. He drives me to see one of his last shopping malls, the Grand Arcade in Wigan. It opened in March 2007, “pretty much the same day as Warrington, only 20 miles away, had a massive extension to its shopping centre. The Trafford centre had just had one too. Preston, Chorley – they were all at the same game.”

Then Britain’s credit system failed. “The banks were like, ‘That umbrella we lent you when it was sunny, can we have it back now it’s raining?’ We had a shopping centre in Wakefield half-built, and the banks stopped the funding.”

Since the company’s huge loans were backed by the partners, Riddell had to hold his own closing-down sale and liquidate almost everything he owned. He went from being worth millions to being tens of millions in debt. The family home was only saved by cash from his father-in-law. He also donated the nine-year-old car we’re now in.

“Those bastards in the banking system” are, in his eyes, “drug dealers. They want to get their cocaine out, and they’re bonused up to find people like us. ‘Here, d’you want more stuff?’ Then when the drugs ran out, they came and kicked our doors in and scared our wives.”

Now he holds no bank account, and buys precious little. Having been spat out of the debt-consumerist complex, he wants nothing more to do with it.

As we park up outside his glory days, he sighs: “Weird, being back here.” The Grand Arcade was built on the site of the Wigan Casino, and there is by the vast cafe a shrine to northern soul: guitars, posters and seven-inch singles.

Still, he remembers, local traders hated the mall for sucking the life out of the local high street. Now it has its own voids: both TK Maxx and Monsoon have left. Riddell takes a long, mystified look at the temple he built, deserted at closing time.

“Retail,” he finally says. “It’s dead, innit?”

Grass roots ... to really CHANGE the prospects on any manor , only the locals can do that.

One lesson that should be taught in any layer of Authority ... provide the resources and then let the locals get on with it !!!
More on former mining communities ... which I have visited in the past fornight to see , at first hand , some of the daily realities for most ... Castleford / Featherstone / Pontefract / Wakefield / Doncaster / Barnsley / Rotherham and all points in between not forgetting my starting point , Worksop :

https://www.pontefractandcastlefordexpr ... -1-9044149

‘More to do to help pit towns’

Former pit communities which have been “left behind” since the closure of the mines still need support to recover from the industry’s demise.

That was the message from The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) when the organisation addressed MPs in Westminster on Tuesday.

The trust said more action was needed to boost employment, skills and health within former mining towns and villages, including those in the Wakefield district.

Andy Lock, head of operations said 42 per cent of neighbourhoods in Yorkshire fall into the 30 per cent most deprived in the country.

He said: “It is essential we carry on our work together [with MPs] as we tackle the ongoing issues and ensure coalfield communities do not continue to be left behind.”

Pontefract, Castleford and Normanton MP Yvette Cooper is one of 40 MPs who have signed a pledge to support the work of the trust. Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has also signed the pledge.

Ms Cooper said: “The early work the CRT did was really important for our area - including training and skills for former miners, supporting jobs and regeneration on pit sites like Glasshoughton and investing in community facilities like Ferrybridge Community Centre.

“But in recent years the government has slashed their funding even though coalfield communities still need investment and round here we are still dealing with the closure of Kellingley and the loss of skilled jobs.

“That’s why I’m calling on the government to put new money into the trust so it can promote employment, skills and health in mining communities. I’m particularly calling for new investment through the CRT into Knottingley where Britain’s last deep mine closed two years ago.”

The CRT used this week’s Westminster reception to outline plans for a Coalfield Investment Fund.

It said cash would be used to support small and medium enterprise growth, bringing around 1,000 jobs to the coalfields over the next five years. These developments, it said, would then produce £50m over a 25 year period, to be used to support community projects.

The CRT used this week’s Westminster reception to outline plans for a Coalfield Investment Fund.

Virtually all the mines were closed some 24 years ago and , only now , investment is to be made ???

Suck out the better paying jobs ... mining ... and replace them with virtually nothing more than minimum wage / zero hour contract paying jobs , and nothing like the former employment levels and , any reader can see what will happen ... ???
Ground zero ... Tredegar , South Wales ... the birthplace of Aneurin " Nye " Bevan , the architect of the NHS.

https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare- ... e-tredegar

Why the south Wales town that forged the NHS now points to its future.

Tredegar, the birthplace of Aneurin Bevan, offers a microcosm of the health and social care problems facing the nation.

Growing up in Tredegar in the 1960s, Jackie Rowlands vividly remembers the long benches in the surgery waiting room. Patients would move along the bench until it was their turn to see the doctor: “They were absolutely shining, so people just slid along because they were polished all the time. When you were a child, they were wonderful. You might be at the surgery at nine o’clock in the morning and not be seen until 11 o’clock, and if the doctor was called out to an emergency nobody complained.” She recalls a spirit of camaraderie: “Women used to knit in the surgery. And you had conversations – you got to know people along the bench.”

Coal mining had brought jobs and relative prosperity to the town: Rowlands remembers Tredegar as a thriving community, with two cinemas, a “massive library”, the Workmen’s Hall, which held weekly dances, and a snooker hall. But the industry took its toll on health: pneumoconiosis, a lung ailment caused by coal dust, was widespread.

Things have changed a good deal.

When pharmacist Simon Nelson arrived in Tredegar in 1984, the miners’ strike was in full flow. By the end of the decade, the last local coal mine had closed. It was a close-knit community: the local MP, Michael Foot (“a very nice chap, very quiet”), lived just a few doors away from Nelson’s first pharmacy.

As industrial diseases disappeared, diseases of poverty, resulting from inactivity and isolation, took their place. Dr Krishan Syal, who began work in Tredegar’s Glan-yr-Afon practice in 1987, says wryly that he doesn’t see very much of the worried well, but that a lot of his patients have mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

The burden on the local NHS is growing. A report last year by the local county council described Tredegar as an “area of high levels of deprivation, unhealthy lifestyles and associated ill health”. It also expressed concern at the area’s difficulty in recruiting GPs. In the 1960s, Tredegar and other south Wales towns benefited from an influx of doctors from South Asia, recruited by health minister Enoch Powell to fill multiple vacancies: as those doctors retire, there are few who want to take their place. Syal has been unable to replace the two partners who left his practice; past retirement age himself, he has had to return to work full-time.

How can the NHS cope with the challenges of rising chronic disease, increasing mental health problems and a GP shortage?

As a pharmacist, Nelson is already taking on some of the GPs’ workload. “When I put my first consulting room into a shop in the late 90s, some of my colleagues thought I was absolutely crazy,” he says. Now qualified as an independent prescriber, Nelson offers 10-minute consultations to patients with conditions such as eye infections or thrush, freeing up time for GPs to deal with more serious illnesses.

But other problems are harder to tackle. Chris Ham, chief executive of the health thinktank King’s Fund, notes the NHS’s achievement in reducing premature deaths from heart disease, stroke and cancer, but cautions: “We have been incredibly successful at making healthcare available to everybody with rising standards of care, but with the ageing population, and the changing disease burden, we’re having to tackle a very different set of health problems.”

Innovations such as telehealth (using wearable technology and smartphone apps to monitor and give feedback on chronically ill patients in their own home, for example) and personalised medicine, which involves tailoring treatment to individuals, seem to promise a solution. Harry Quilter-Pinner, a research fellow at IPPR, a centre-left thinktank, says that personalised medicine “could be a game changer in terms of life expectancy and quality of life, but it won’t save money. You defer long-term conditions till later but they’re still there. We know that most of the cost comes at the end of life – and everyone has to die.”

There are no easy answers, but Ham believes that one of the key changes that needs to happen is integration of healthcare and social care: older people, he points out, “often need social care support more than they need medical care support and yet one is free at the point of use and the other is means tested and needs tested. And that seems increasingly anomalous.” To achieve that requires a journey similar to that which led to Bevan’s NHS in 1948, he says: “We need a government that has the vision, the courage, the ambition to want to do that, and so far we haven’t had one.”

Before the formation of the NHS, it wasn’t unusual for groups of workers to form self-help organisations to pay for members’ medical care. The Tredegar Workmen’s Medical Aid Society, however, was one of the most successful and comprehensive. It began life in the late 19th century, and was initially made up of miners and steelworkers, though membership was later extended to include their relatives and other workers.

By the 1920s, the society employed the services of five doctors, one surgeon, two pharmacists, a physiotherapist, a dentist, and a district nurse. For an extra sum each week, members could also benefit from hospital treatment.

During the inter-war depression, the society continued to provide services to unemployed people, even though they could no longer afford to pay a subscription. By the mid-1940s, the society was providing medical care for 22,800 of the town’s 24,000 inhabitants.

Aneurin Bevan, who was born in Tredegar, took the Workmen’s Medical Aid Society as his inspiration for the NHS, saying: “All I am doing is extending to the entire population of Britain the benefits we had in Tredegar for a generation or more. We are going to ‘Tredegarise’ you.”

Poor Nye ... all his hopes and aspitrations for a NHS service that would stand the test of time ???

Like any service , starve it of both finances and resources , and the end product will be ... ???

Add in the involvement of the private sector , and the splitting of social care from the NHS and today's excuse is the end result !!!
Getting ever closer ... Worksop ... 'ome , of sorts , to me ... and many other outcasts.

Poundland ... one of the few non betting offices remaining in the " High Street " ... closing down , everthing now 89p or less.

All bar 3 charity shops went last year ... 3 that remain in side streets where nobody wants to visit after dark.

Local school , built with PFI monies , 'ome to the Bassetlaw Astronomy Society on alternate Wednesday evenings , now has a very large container in the playground ... six receptacles ... clothing / shoes / utensils / tins of food etc. ... mirror imaging others seen on my twirling travels around both South and West Yorkshire.

Two more added across the road at the local ASDA ... small delivery vans used to pick up on a weekly basis last year , larger vans picking up daily now.

Take my abode ... compass point ... draw a circle a mile out ... 27 pubs when I arrived in November 2010 , 7 now remaining ... 3 of which take it in turns to open at night.

The last one offering live entertainment ... local artists / groups ... now gone.

Local letting agents handling my abode and many others ... permanent staff down to 2 with one " Zero hours " contract as cover .... 5 only a year ago.

Bin diving ? A few of my neighbours now wait to put out their bins at the last minute ( Even setting their alarm clocks to 5.30 am ) ... left overnight is asking for trouble.

Touch wood , no problems with this complex ... I put out 8 full bins fortnightly ( Only green , no other bins supplied ... thankfully ) ... keeps me fit like pushing a wheelchair during my caring days ... only a matter of time before the locals descend ???

Keep buying those old oxo cubes ... second biggest employer 'round 'ere ... 5 of my immediate neighbours work there ... all bar one on the night shift.

What goes into them ?

Now , that would be telling ... and somewhat disastrous for Worksop !

Not quite there yet but ... well on the way ?
A slight shift but important one.

Ground zero ... any High Street on any manor ... article from the Daily Chuckle :

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... s-cut.html

Save Britain's high streets: As it’s revealed 50,000 retail jobs were axed in the past six months the Mail calls for urgent overhaul of crippling business rates

Business leaders and shop owners blame punitive business rates and high rents.
Last year UK high street shops closed at a staggering rate of 16 every day.
In recent months Poundworld, Toys R Us, Maplin and Prezzo have all suffered.
The Mail today launches a campaign to save Britain's high streets – after a staggering 50,000 retail jobs were axed in the first half of this year.

The figures expose the bloodbath up and down the country as hundreds of stores – from major chains to small shops – shut their doors.

Business leaders, shopkeepers and MPs blame punitive business rates that cripple high streets and hand a huge advantage to internet giants.

Today chief executives of some of the country's biggest chains, along with politicians from all parties, demand reform as they warn that sky-high rates are stifling investment and driving long-established companies to the wall.

Last year shops closed at a rate of 16 every day. Figures compiled by the Press Association show that between January and June this year, 50,000 jobs were either lost or expected to go.

In recent months the trail of destruction has hit household names including House of Fraser – which has put 6,000 jobs under threat – and Poundworld, which plunged into administration endangering a further 5,100.

Toys R Us and Maplin collapsed, while chains such as Prezzo, Byron and Jamie's Italian shut restaurants and culled hundreds of jobs.

Meanwhile, the taxman is raking in more and more from business rates – with a total haul of £30.8 billion predicted this year, up from £29.6 billion last year.

The vast majority comes from major retailers in the heart of towns and cities, while online stores and out-of-town shopping centres pay much less in both rates and corporation tax.

Critics say high business rates which force firms to go bust are self-defeating, as they reduce tax revenues.

Marks & Spencer, which is closing more than 100 stores in the next four years with hundreds of jobs at risk, told the Mail that rising rates were partly to blame for its drastic plans.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: 'Business rates are an unfair burden of taxation directly contributing to the challenges the high street is facing. The long-term effects of these charges are now a reality.

'Our Covent Garden store faced a rate rise of close to a half a million pounds in the year before it closed, an untenable position for any retailer.

These challenges will continue until the system is reformed to create a level playing field between high street and online retailers.'

Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: 'UK retail is the most employment-dense sector of the economy, so constantly losing businesses in the way we are will have an economic impact.

'And so if they're not careful the Government risk taking too much out of business rates and then losing in the medium term.'

Labour MP Frank Field, chairman of the Commons work and pensions committee, said: 'The taxation of online retailers and firms which funnel their profits abroad should be changed now.

'A specific sales tax should be put on those firms that compete against the high street and barely pay a penny to the Government. Reform is long overdue.'

Senior Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg said: 'Business rates have not kept up with economic change.

High street shops are penalised while online sellers face lower charges giving them another competitive advantage.'

Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said: 'This is a very important and welcome campaign.

'There must be a level playing field and this campaign would be a significant step to achieving that.'

Business rates are based on the estimated rental value of a property. It means that traditional retailers such as department stores with large premises in town and city centres are hit particularly hard, while newer internet rivals such as Amazon pay far less.

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said one in five of his organisation's members had thought about closing down or selling up because of the pressure from business rates.

He said: 'Along with spiralling rents, increasing labour costs and weakening consumer demand, rising business rates bills are threatening high streets across the country.

'Business rates are an unfair and regressive tax, which hit firms before they've made their first penny in turnover, let alone profit.'

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, added: 'The broken business rates system puts pressure on firms of all shapes and sizes, taking no account of economic circumstances or business performance.

'In this climate of sluggish growth and weak investment, a system which saps funds and undermines firms' investment potential is particularly jarring.'

The Institute of Directors and Confederation of British Industry also backed calls for reform.

Meanwhile, pub and restaurant bosses say rates have made it hard to survive in an industry where profits have always been tight and rising inflation has put them under even more pressure.

Experts say 2018 will go down in history as the 'year of the Company Voluntary Arrangement' – an insolvency procedure used to push through several store closure programmes this year.

Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group, said: 'Business rates are rarely the sole driver for insolvencies but certainly a contributory factor, with bills having risen by more than a fifth through inflation during the seven years before last year's revaluation.

'Add that to the lethal cocktail of other increased operating costs for the national living wage and apprenticeship levy and it creates the perfect storm.'

The Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank says business rates should be torn up and replaced with a new system where the value of the land itself is taxed, rather than the buildings on top of it.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said: 'Government ministers will weep crocodile tears about the situation, but it is government policy that is partly to blame, given the lamentable failure of the Government to shift the unfair burden of business rates away from hard-pressed high street retailers and find a way of taxing online retailers more effectively.'

Whilst many readers will prefer ordering goods from their computer , many at the lower end ... the 1 in 4 ... will not have regular Internet access , and will be stuck doing their shopping in the traditional way.

If shopping online is cheaper , how will the 1 in 4 benefit without vital access to the Internet.

The more manors become blighted with empty shops , the more likely related social problems will increase.

Imagine living in a rented flat above a now empty shop ... in a row with , say , only 2 in 12 still open ?
A video and article ... Ferrybridge / Kellingley Colliery site ( West YorkieLand ) ... passed through there only a couple of weeks ago.

The last but one sign of any economic activity now confined to rubble and dust ?

https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/vi ... -1-9233212


One ex-miner even said that he had had the 'twin towers' tattooed onto his leg after being made redundant from his workplace of 34 years.

Already signs of another ghost town being created.

The life blood ... wages ... having been sucked out of the community.

Only the power station to go ... and that's not long !
A headline from an article in the Guardian ... how to revive town centre high streets :

UK market towns embrace foodie wave to revive ailing centres.

Leaders in struggling town centres have expressed interest in model spearheaded by Macclesfield and Altrincham.

Full article :

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... ng-centres

Ground zero ... my manor ... Worksop.

Every day , Monday to Friday , trip in the afternoon to local po ... cross through the high street.

Many empty shops ... most due to their fixed costs not even being covered by sales ... a shortfall even before one looks at variable costs.

What's REALLY missing ?

My answer ?

Monies in the locals' pockets !

Minimum wage / zero hour contracts ?

Don't go far enough other than to contribute towards the basics ... food / rent / energy / transport ... where's the additional monies needed to purchase more than the basics ?

30 odd years ago , same high street was viabrant ... mining industry being the catalyst.

Take that away ... common theme throughout postings on this thread ... and ... can anyone not see the future ... that is now ?

To me , it really is as simple as that.

Having solved that problem only to create another ?

NHS / social care ... an increase in taxation to save both from meltdown ?

Thankfully , not my decision to make !
Town centres to receive £675m cash injection under Government plans to save Britain's high streets.

The fund is the latest in a series of policy announcements announced by ministers recent months to reverse the decline of the country’s high streets, which have been decimated by the rise of online retailers and ecommerce.

With thousands of retail units falling vacant this year, calls for Government intervention have grown as major retailers including Debenhams and House of Fraser announced plans to shut dozen of stores due to dwindling profits and footfall.

The closure of bank branches, as consumers turn to online and mobile banking, has also heightened concerns that many elderly people are being cut off from local services.

In order to slow the rate of decline, the Chancellor, Philip Hammond has already spent £900m on reducing business rates by a third for 500,000 small retailers, whilst also unveiling a £400m digital services tax for tech giants such as Facebook and Google.

Last night Jake Berry, the high streets minister, said the fund would enable local leaders to turn their high streets around, adding that they were best placed to address challenges faced by businesses.

He said: “We all know high streets are changing, we can’t hide from this reality. But we’re determined to ensure they continue sit at the heart of our communities for generations to come.

“To do this we have to support investment in infrastructure, boosting local economies and ensuring people are able to get the most out of their local high streets. Empowering leaders on the ground is key too – they best understand the challenges facing their areas.

Sounds good ?

In poorer areas ... my own Worksop are a prime example ... only one thing would ease the decline in the local high street.

Putting surplus income into the pockets / wallets of the local population so that many could afford items not deemed essentials !!!
Bloodbath on the high street : More than 175,000 jobs will be cut this year and 23,395 shops will shut as internet sales batter retailers.

A slump in the value of retail property is expected to see 23,395 shops shut.

Around 20,000 stores closed last year and 150,000 jobs were lost in retail.

It comes as notorious Sports Direct boss
Mike Ashley mulls a takeover of HMV.

The Internet and ... Universal Credit ... strange bedfellows ???

Which will rank up the most casualties ???
5th. May 2018 ... visited during a twirly grand tour trip ... vibrant ... at least the centre was ... outskirts grim.

Interlocks with recent posting on the MAIN LA thread.

ScargillLand / BirdLand ?

Probably BirdLand ... especially if that infamous fingers points in the general diection of Westminster ?

" Desperation and despair " : Barnsley's long battle with austerity.

Struggling Yorkshire town has endured crippling council cuts – but locals are fighting back.

That Barnsley is the British city worst affected by a near-decade of austerity cuts comes as no surprise to Susan Round, 61, owner of the Pats for Pants underwear stall in the town centre’s covered markets. “I do think it has got worse. The state of the roads. Social care. The hospitals. Antisocial behaviour. Spice.”

According to the Centre for Cities thinktank, Barnsley council spending has reduced by 40% over eight years – around four times the average reduction faced by cities in the south-east – since the coalition decided in 2010 that local government would bear the brunt of austerity and the poorest boroughs would shoulder the biggest cuts.

Roughly £145m has been stripped from the deprived South Yorkshire borough’s annual spending, equivalent to £688 for every resident. About 2,400 jobs have gone and services are being tightly squeezed and chopped. Nationally, no councils have escaped cuts but working-class northern communities such as Barnsley have had it worse than others.

On the Weigh and Save market stall, amid barrels of cereals and dried fruits, Tim Steele, 30, has experienced the cuts. He used to work with vulnerable families in a local Sure Start centre but lost his job when budgets were cut. He wonders what happened to those families. “The need is still there but there is nothing for them.”

What’s changed ?

He sees more homeless people on the streets. “A few years ago you never saw that,” he said. Antisocial behaviour is more noticeable, the police are less visible and it is almost not worth bothering with the GP because appointments have to be booked weeks in advance, he added.

Times are hard, said Steele. Lots of people struggle to pay the bills and there’s an urgent sense that the cuts have gone too far. “We all pay our taxes and we need to see that tax go somewhere. The NHS needs it, the police needs it, the council needs it.”

In Barnsley town hall, council leader Sir Stephen Houghton laughs grimly when the prime minister, Theresa May’s, pledge last year to end austerity, is mentioned. “We’ve lost half our workforce. The council is basically run on the goodwill of the remaining staff. Volunteers help clean the streets. We are reaching the limit now.”

Two-thirds of the street cleaning budget has gone, along with a quarter of library spending and 100% of the tourism budget. Youth clubs and Sure Start centres have closed and grass verges go uncut. Services are often slower: “If you reported fly-tipping you used to expect it to be sorted in 24 hours; now you wait two weeks.”

On the other hand, Barnsley spends more on social care, up 2o percentage points since 2010. Strikingly, 62% of the entire council budget goes on looking after vulnerable adults and children – the biggest of any British city. Demand is rising as the population gets older and child poverty rates, which are as high as 40% in some wards, rise.

The rise is unsustainable, said Houghton. The fear is that the council will be forced to shut down everything else it does to meets its legal obligations to deliver social care. “You don’t have to cut the grass, clean the streets or mend the roads. But really, who would want to live in a place where you don’t do those things?” said Houghton.

Jane Holliday, the chief executive of Age UK Barnsley, said the steep rise in adult social care spending reflects soaring demand, rather than evidence of a lush panoply of service provision. Care is tightly rationed, the quality often poor. Hurried care visits leave no time for a chat or a cup of tea with lonely clients. Some frail older people who don’t qualify for council help struggle with cleaning, shopping or gardening.

A few years ago, the council ran a free handyman service and a shopping service for older residents who needed a bit of support with everyday chores. These have been cut, said Holliday, and for those without family nearby the effect can be isolating. “We’ve had people who have been sat in the dark for a couple of days because the fuse blew and they couldn’t fix it.”

The once-thriving coal mining community is now England’s 39th most deprived authority. Levels of unemployment and economic inactivity are higher than the national average. Life expectancy is lower than the England average and winter death rates from flu and respiratory disease are higher than average. The council believes this is partly the result of entrenched poverty and ill-health.

Barnsley Foodbank Partnership, which did not exist five years ago, now runs 11 outlets. Ironically, it gave out fewer food parcels last year, not because there was less hardship but because a community project in one of the borough’s poorest wards – one of its main referral agencies – was closed down. That austerity cut meant there was no one to refer hungry people for a food voucher. “We are clear there’s been no reduction in need,” said food bank chair Mick Neal.

Dan Jarvis, the Labour MP for Barnsley central, said the human impact of years of government cuts to council services, alongside cuts to welfare benefits such as the bedroom tax and universal credit, has been an accumulation of stress and misery for local people. “Life for my constituents, in work or out of work, has become harder. I see a lot of desper.

There is little faith that the government public spending review later this year will herald good news. Ministers don’t recognise that deprived areas have higher social spending requirements, said Houghton. He fears that areas such as Barnsley, where social need is highest but the ability to fund services locally weakest, will lose out further. “If you ran the NHS on that basis there would be rioting.”

For all the gloom, back in the town markets, there’s a proud resilience. The city is used to hard knocks. Round is optimistic about the council’s £180m regeneration scheme, which has revamped the legendary market and will bring a cinema. “Barnsley is what it is,” she said. “It declined, but it is coming back a heck of a lot.”

A few stalls away, Dave Wilson, 63, who runs Dave & Dave fruit and veg, agrees. He thinks that Yorkshire comes off worst in the north-south economic divide, and says the NHS is struggling. But he’s philosophical: “You’ve got to be optimistic. You can always lie down and die. But if you don’t try, you don’t get nought.”